In the 16 games across the 3 divisions of the League of Ireland last weekend, not one outsider (based on bookmakers' odds) managed to win. The closest was Wexford Youths who led Peamount United in the Women's Premier Division before the Peas came back to win and stay top of their table. In the Men's Premier Division, only Shelbourne of the favourites didn't win and they'd argue that if they didn't play nearly the entire game with 10 men, they'd have beaten Dundalk. Galway United and Waterford scored 12 in 3 games between them in the First Division. Does this mean the leagues are settling down and beginning to get boring? We don't think so, but we've a huge bank holiday weekend ahead that might change our minds. Let's get up to speed on the week's talking points.
League of Ireland recap: Week Ten
The Big Talking Point: The Battle For Funding
The biggest obstacle facing League of Ireland clubs is infrastructure. Teams need better training facilities, and fans need better stadiums to watch the games in. Both of these cost a lot of money to build. Money that the clubs don't have. The FAI's chaotic finances over the past decade have inhibited major investment in infrastructure. Questions have also been repeatedly asked of the Irish government's funding of football. In his exit statement, outgoing FAI chairman Roy Barrett called on the Government to make a "huge amount of significant investment" in the game.
This week Daniel McDonnell in the Indo reported that the FAI had commissioned a report calling for a review of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, which ensures that all taxes from gambling in Ireland are distributed to those two sports. The report by KHSK Economic Consultants calls on the Government to rethink what it describes as an 'unusual funding mechanism'. The report also shows the correlation between the tax intake and the investment in those sports, even with both sports receiving funds far exceeding the intake.
The horse racing industry has some powerful allies in government so we're unlikely to see much change - at least in the immediate future - but it's great to see the FAI extoll the virtues of football in Ireland. League of Ireland football is clearly on the up. If it's to make that next step, it will need government support. While it has been easy in the past for politicians to dismiss the "basket case" FAI, we're about to find out if they're willing to back the sport whose leaders are serious about growing the game.
The Moment Of The Week
Trevor Clarke with the rocket!pic.twitter.com/rYauJROPNE
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) April 22, 2023
Shamrock Rovers comfortably beat St Pats in Inchicore last week with this stunning Trevor Clarke strike among the best goals we've seen this season. Rovers still aren't at the level they'd like to be but they've a change to join the title race for real if they beat Sligo Rovers and Derry City this weekend. That game in the Ryan McBride Brandywell on Monday evening could set up the second half of the season. It's live on RTE 2.
The Happiness Index
While most of the country is happy we get to enjoy a bank holiday weekend, some football fans are dreading the thought of seeing their team lose twice in four days. Not these lads though.
- Galway United – 10 from 10. Nothing like it.
- Bohemians – 5 points clear with games against the bottom two sides to come. 99% of Bohs fans now understand they're in a title race.
- Waterford – Keith Long has transformed the club. How bad was Danny Searle?
- Shamrock Rovers - Four wins in five. The champions are chasing now and everyone was delighted to see Jack Byrne stay on.
- Peamount United – Top of the league after their big win against Wexford Youths. Saturday sees Shamrock Rovers visit and everyone will be aware of the players who left Peamount for the short trip to Tallaght. No result in any division would be sweeter this weekend.
Media Spotlight of the Week: Monday Game on TV
First Friday without a LOI game in a month. There's some good games available too with no live sport commitments competing on RTE or Virgin Media. Still we have a bank holiday Monday game on RTE on Monday night with Derry City v Shamrock Rovers. It will have a bit of a showcase with all 4 of the other Premier games on Monday being played earlier in the day. It might not help viewing figures much, but it should help online chatter and if the game delivers, we could have our first big LOI twitter night of the year. Every other TV game so far this year has competed against the rest of the league. Let's hope the game deliver though.
Kenny Cunningham’s Eyebrow Raise of the Week
Galway United will have over 4,000 people at their game against Cobh Ramblers on Friday. John Caulfield's side are going for 11 wins-in-a-row and have joined in the league-wide wave of good crowds. There's a very strong chance that this game will have more fans than the Premier Division games tonight that aren't played in Tallaght. Galway have regularly been described as "sleeping giants" but their record on the field hasn't really warranted that giants tag. There's no doubt though that a city and county like Galway should have a team at the top table of Irish football. if they can bring these crowds into the Premier Division next year, they might not be far away from competing for trophies.
𝗜𝗧'𝗦 𝗠𝗔𝗧𝗖𝗛𝗗𝗔𝗬 - 𝗗𝗢𝗡'𝗧 𝗠𝗜𝗦𝗦 𝗢𝗨𝗧 🤩
A full house is expected for Clubs Night, get your ticket now to avoid disappointment! ⏳
📅: Fri 28 Apr ⌚️: 7:45PM
🏟️: Eamonn Deacy Park
🎟️: https://t.co/92QzjlyAmV#ItsATribalThing | #GALCOB pic.twitter.com/AzzrUNQDzO
— Gaillimh Aontaithe (@GalwayUnitedFC) April 28, 2023
Predicting the Game of the Week
It really is a stacked weekend. Friday has the Louth Derby, Derry v Pats and a battle of the Rovers in Tallaght. Bohs will be hoping for three draws there and to extend their lead in Belfield. In the Women's Premier Division tomorrow we have Peamount v Rovers and Wexford v Shels. Wexford have lost three in a row but would love mothing more than to stick it to old rivals Shelbourne.
The game of the week though should be that game in Derry on Monday night with the Candystripes hosting Shamrock Rovers. Derry won the first tussle between the sides in Tallaght earlier this season but come into the weekend having lost their last two home games. A defeat in this game would likely see the loser 8/9 points behind Bohemians and give the winner a huge confidence boost ahead of the busy summer period.
SEE ALSO: Dodge's League of Ireland Recap, Week 9: Pitch Battle